Athlete Spotlight: John Roche

Today’s spotlight is on John Roche. He answered his spotlight questions, and then had ChapGPT answer them as well – Enjoy getting to know John. And if you haven’t met him, make it a point to do so because he’s one of the nicest people you will ever meet.

When did you join

When did you start triathlon
I bought my first road bike late 2019 and started swim lessons around the same time. My first triathlon was Oilman 70.3 in Nov 2020 and I have completed 7 x 70.3 races and 2 x 140.6 races with a handful of sprint and Olympic distance in between.

Talk about the journey
After the first month in the pool, I was starting to think I would never actually finish a 1.2 mile swim. Might have been the first time in life I ever had real doubt about finishing something. I think it was at least 4-6 weeks before my Garmin started to understand I was swimming freestyle. Turns out all that time spent in the pool and North Atlantic as a kid was not actual swimming. The people I have met has been the best part. Steve-O, Team Dad, welcomed me to the team with open arms. He got me paired up with cyclists, such as Jorge Aragon, who helped me understand the rules of engagement on the road. Spent a lot of time on the bike with Scott Darling and the rest of my 9th grade group. Long runs with Larry. Everyone I met was willing to share time with me on their journey and their learnings and beer after events. I met a great coach who helps me to balance training with work and life. Valhalla and Valkyrie is a great group of people.

Favorite race
Hawaii 70.3. Beautiful destination event! I am going back.

Biggest accomplishment in the sport
Finishing IMTX for the first time. It was humbling to say the least. I remember laying on the bathroom floor when I got home feeling like I got hit by a 18 wheeler.

Biggest challenge
Managing family life, work life, and training.

Favorite post race food
Chocolate milk, burgers, and beers. Increasing consumption in that order.

Talk about family
I’ve been marred to my wife, Laurie, for over 20 years. She is super supportive of this hobby when events take her to Hawaii, not so much when its Lubbock or Waco 😊. There is no one that has been more supportive of me in any part of my life than she has. We have one daughter who is 17 (OMG). We are a tight knit group spending as much time as we can together vacationing, seeing plays, musicals, movies, and dinners.

Talk about professional / personal life
On the personal side I have been very active most of my life. Although I am new to the Road and Tri bike I have been mountain biking since the mid-90’s. My dad would also drag me around to running races since I was probably in elementary school. I like to try new things – travel, eating, drinking (wine/beer), reading, just about anything. My professional life keeps me busy. I lead a super cool engineering organization at HP Inc focused on business and technology innovation. I learn something new every day and work with some incredibly great people. I am focused on data science and AI right now. I most recently created my own GPT (ChatGPT plus) with all of my cycling, swimming, running, and race data. I was curious how it would build a plan based on the historical data. Its pretty cool to see how technology can help us. If you know my coach please make sure he knows it will never replace him 😊.

What is something no one would know or guess about you
I grew up in a house without a TV. That drove me into books and being outside a lot. My Dad plumbed the house with a Satellite and multiple TVs as soon as my brother and I left for college.

Favorite author
Michael Lewis

Favorite restaurant
Such as tough question. It really depends on what I am in the mood for. So many good restaurants in the Houston area. I really love Asian fusion and BBW. Blood Brothers BBQ in Bellaire has a Thai Peanut Curry Sticky Rib that is to die for.

Who is your biggest inspiration
My Dad. He is learning how to swim at 75 and completed his first triathlon. He loves coming out to events and talking about me. At 47 that is not embarrassing at all.

Exciting plans for next year
Texas 70.3 and hopefully something else pending my work schedule. Hoping to get to the Sphere in Vegas for a show.
In the Depths of Trial and Tide – By GPT4 in the tune of Edgar Allen Poe
In the year two-thousand nineteen’s gloom, With a spirit for challenge, a road bike I assume. Began my journey in waters and lanes, A novice in triathlons, embracing the strains.

In the pool’s depths, doubts like shadows fell, A 1.2 mile swim, a daunting spell. Weeks passed under the watchful eye of Garmin’s sight, Learning the freestyle’s rhythm, through day and night.

Memories of North Atlantic’s waves, mere child’s play, In the true test of swim, I found my way. Comrades in this quest, their names I recall, Steve-O, Team Dad, in camaraderie we all.

Jorge Aragon, cyclist wise and bold, Taught me the rules of the road, stories told. Long hours with Scott Darling and our grade nine troupe, Endless runs with Larry, in a never-ending loop.

A coach, a guide, amidst life’s ever-spinning wheel, Balancing work, life, with unwavering zeal. In Valhalla and Valkyrie, a family found, Shared learnings, beers, and laughter abound.
Hawaii’s shores called for a race so dear, A beautiful sojourn, I long to reappear. Yet, the greatest feat, IMTX’s grueling course, Laid me low, with an eighteen-wheeler’s force.

Juggling life’s spheres, a challenge so real, Family, work, training, a perpetual wheel. Post-race, the joys of chocolate milk, burgers, beer, In this order, indulgence, and cheer.

Two decades with Laurie, a bond so fine, Her support unwavering, through every finish line. Our daughter, seventeen, in life’s swift stream, Together, in plays, travels, a familial dream.

An active life, from mountains to tracks, New ventures, new tastes, never looking back. At HP Inc, innovation’s relentless chase, Data science, AI, in technology’s embrace.

A GPT of my own, with data entwined, A plan of training, by algorithms designed. Yet, no replacement for the coach I admire, Technology’s aid, but human spirit higher.

A childhood unique, no TV’s glare, In books and nature, I found my share. Once departed, my father’s house transformed, Satellites and screens, a new norm adorned.
Michael Lewis, a scribe of favored tale, His words, through life’s journey, a constant sail. Houston’s culinary scene, a spectrum wide, Asian fusion, BBQ, a delectable ride.

My father, my beacon at seventy-five, Swimming, racing, his spirit alive. Embarrassment aside, his pride my crown, In his footsteps, I tread, never to drown.

Plans ahead, Texas 70.3 in sight, And Vegas’ Sphere, under the neon light. A year of dreams, of races, of life’s embrace, In every stroke, pedal, and pace.